Holidays can be a stressful time for kids and teens. As a culture, we tout the season as one of positive shared experiences that means gifts, school holiday, and family togetherness. However, what the research tells us and what our families at Outreach Teen & Family Services report is that there are outliers that can make the time particularly difficult: families facing financial challenges; divorcing or separated families; blended families; military separations; families coping with psychological struggles, and families experiencing a recent loss of a loved one have emotional burdens that exacerbate during the holiday season.
A good first step is for adults to realize the level of stress and pressure that kids are already faced with—much of it related to the economy and school in general. The American Psychological Association’s recent Stress in America survey found that while almost half of all teens and a quarter of tweens said they were under more stress than ever before, less than 1/3 of parents were even aware of their kids’ increased worries.
When stress hits its peak, it is difficult to stop and regroup. Stress and depression can ruin your holidays and impact your physical and mental wellness. Be realistic, plan ahead, seek support, and reach out! According to the Mayo Clinic, some simple steps can help ward off stress and depression during the season and act as holiday stress-buster strategies to prevent emotional distress in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll in the past
Tips to prevent holiday stress and depression
Plan ahead Set aside specific days for holiday related activities. Don’t let the hustle and bustle overwhelm your everyday routine as a family.
Learn to say no Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Model this liberating behavior for your children as well!
Do not forsake healthy practices. Holidays need not turn into a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to stress and guilt. And, children and teens need structure and routine during this time more than ever.
Take a time-out Make some time for yourself. Spend just 10 minutes alone, without distractions and noise and ask your kids to do this for themselves so that they can regroup and recalibrate. Help kids and teens to identify something that reduces stress and helps them to clear their minds. Use slow breathing to help restore a sense of psychological and physiological calm.
Seek professional emotional first aid Outreach Teen & Family Services offers individual and family counseling as well as free parenting consults that can support you during the holiday season and all the year through. Let’s face it, even the best of us may at times find that we struggle with sadness, or anxiety, or persistent worries we can’t get hold of. If these feelings last for a while or get worse during the holidays, reach out to our counseling professionals. We are committed to supporting you and your child’s emotional wellbeing.
Outreach Teen & Family Services  is a nonprofit, confidential counseling service. We offer counseling and educational programs to youth and parents that are affordable, accessible, and discreet; all within a welcoming, supportive environment. We are deeply committed to providing affordable counseling, care, and connection.